About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Mourning Doves defend their nests

I have a mourning dove nest on my magnolia tree with 3 eggs. The bad thing about it, I believe, is how very low it is. I’m only 5’2” and I can see the eggs when she flies away. Should I place a bird house higher? We have cats running around from time to time I'm afraid they can get to her nest very easily.

Once a bird has chosen her nesting site, it’s best to leave her alone. They will learn through trial and error about how and where to build nests. If this particular site doesn’t work out for her, she will move on to a new location.

Doves are known for their inappropriate nesting sites. Their nest is usually a fragile, shallow platform of twigs. They will nest on the branch of a shrub, tree or even sometimes on the ground. They do not nest in bird houses and so I do not recommend placing a house above the nest.

An interesting fact about the dove nest building process is that the male bird collects the sticks and passes them to the female to weave into a nest while standing on her back. Once she lays her eggs, the pair rarely leaves the nest unattended. The male usually incubates from mid-morning until late afternoon, and the female sits the rest of the day and night.

Doves, like a lot of birds, rely on camouflage to protect them from predators’ attacks. Sometimes they remain still until danger passes or they may leave the nest as danger approaches, to lure the predator away.

When they are not nesting they generally eat enough to fill their bi-lobed crops and then fly back to digest. The bird's crop is a large sac at the bottom of the esophagus. In some warmer areas the Mourning Doves nest almost year round because they feed their young “crop milk,” a fluid from the lining of the crop. The parents regurgitate the "milk" directly into the hatchling's mouth and throat.

Mourning Doves can be found throughout most of North America and are considered among the top ten most abundant birds in the United States. While the average longevity for a typical adult is only about 1.5 years, the oldest known free-living Mourning Dove, as proven by bird banding research, was more than 31 years old. This is the longest life-span ever recorded for any terrestrial bird found in North America.

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